Shimla: A disturbing viral video showing a large stream carrying tons of solid garbage is indeed the Ashwani Khad or Asni river – a major source of drinking water to Shimla town and Solan.
It has been confirmed that Shimla has now begun to destroy the very sources that offer them invaluable drinking water. Anyone who came across this scene was bewildered.
Himachal Watcher talked to the person, Abhay Sharma and a few other locals, who had recorded the videos as well as the one who had uploaded it on social media. The video was recorded on July 2 near Ashwani Khad not far from Salogra in Solan district.
The gigantic amount of thrash and various sorts of other waste is also real, HW was told.
Not just solid waste like plastic and plastic bottles and bags, thermocol etc., but it also carried a large amount of sewage allegedly discharged under the cover of the heavy rain. The entire region was filled with an unbearable smell of sewage. HW was told.
The contamination of the stream not only threatens the environment but also poses a serious health hazard to the health of the people who receive this water as a drinking water supply.
However, as a shocker, when HW asked the Deputy Commissioner of Shimla, Amit Kashyap regarding the video, he insisted that it was a fake video.
The video is edited and the location also appears to be foreign. The type of plastic visible in the video is not found in Shimla, and there is no such green patch near Salogra or Ashwani Khad,
the DC insisted.
It was a typical ostrich approach – closing eyes and denying the threat.
When asked about waste management in rural areas of upper Shimla region, he said everything is fine and the waste is disposed of properly.
We have formed teams to monitor and ensure proper arrangements for the waste disposal,
He also insisted that the daily solid waste generated by the town is also collected daily and taken to the waste treatment plant in Bhariyal.
Officials of the Shimla Municipal Corporation and the State Pollution Control Board are also washing their hands off by terming the video as fake. As per these bodies, everything is at its place.
As per complainants, it began to happen from past couple of years, especially during heavy monsoon rains.
It’s not the first time that the Khad (rivulet) was flooded with an overwhelming amount of thrash. We have witnessed it at least thrice earlier including twice this year,
Abhay, who is also a member of the non-profit organization Healing Himalayas, told Himachal Watcher.
It hardly rained in Himalayas and outcome is this. Who to blame us or them ? This is Ashwani khad and water supply source of Shimla & Solan. Very close to it is Solan cities solid waste dumpyard ( salogra) @RandeepHooda @jairamthakurbjp @ErikSolheim @deespeak @AUThackeray pic.twitter.com/FSZ3TJi2mB
— healing himalayas (@healinghimalaya) July 15, 2018
The complainants suggested that it happens when it rains heavy in Shimla. Ashwani Khad flows through upper areas of Shimla like Charabra and passes through the periphery of Shimla town.
The solid waste collection and treatment is in tatters in both the Shimla town and upper areas under Panchayats.
Himachal Watcher also talked to the former Mayor of Shimla town, Sanjay Chauhan.
He rubbished these statements of the district administration and the civic body saying that a large amount of garbage begins to enter the stream starting from upper Shimla due to lack of waste management.
To check random dumping of the trash generated by panchayats, we had taken an initiative under which panchayats were provided facility to remove garbage, and a small amount of fee was charged from panchayats. The scheme was now suspended and the solid waste is thrown anywhere. With heavy rain, it’s washed away and enters the stream,
He further pointed out that the garbage generated by residents of Krishna Nagar (Slum) is thrown down the hill. This waste keeps accumulating throughout the year. When it rains heavy, it’s washed away and goes directly into the Khad in Lalpani.
The solid waste collection and management have deteriorated during the past one year. The workers either remained on strike as much as four to five times or didn’t collected the garbage regularly due to poor attitude of the MC towards their demands and grievances,
Now, the SMC has handed over the job of door-to-door garbage to a private contractor. The company was supposed to take the charge of sanitation work in five wards from July 1, 2018, however, neither the contractor nor his workers begun the work so far, said Sanjay.
The only way to control it is to ensure that no waste is dumped near the Khad, which is not happening.
Meanwhile, the video is doing rounds of social media not just in India but also in other foreign countries. Now, it is to be seen whether the State government bothers to order a probe into it or just take it casually.
Freshwater Pollutants To Become Major Cause of Deaths by 2050, warns UN Study
The most comprehensive and rigorous assessment on the state of the environment completed by the UN in the last five years was published today. The report, which was produced by 250 scientists and experts from more than 70 countries, says that either we drastically scale up environmental protections, or cities and regions in Asia, the Middle East and Africa could see millions of premature deaths by mid-century.
Pollutants in our freshwater systems will see anti-microbial resistance become a major cause of death by 2050 and endocrine disruptors impact male and female fertility, as well as child neurodevelopment”
the study warned.
The science is clear. The health and prosperity of humanity are directly tied to the state of our environment. This report is an outlook for humanity. We are at a crossroads. Do we continue on our current path, which will lead to a bleak future for humankind, or do we pivot to a more sustainable development pathway? That is the choice our political leaders must make, now,
said Joyce Msuya, Acting Executive Director of UN Environment.
Innovative Policy Options
The projection of a future healthy planet with healthy people is based on a new way of thinking where the ‘grow now, clean up after’ model is changed to a near-zero-waste economy by 2050. According to the Outlook, green investment of 2 per cent of countries’ GDP would deliver long-term growth as high as we presently projected but with fewer impacts from climate change, water scarcity and loss of ecosystems.
At present, the world is not on track to meet the SDGs by 2030 or 2050. Urgent action is required now as any delay in climate action increases the cost of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, or reversing our progress and at some point, will make them impossible.
The report advises adopting less-meat intensive diets, and reducing food waste in both developed and developing countries, would reduce the need to increase food production by 50% to feed the projected 9-10 billion people on the planet in 2050. At present, 33 per cent of global edible food is wasted, and 56 per cent of waste happens in industrialized countries, the report states.
While urbanization is happening at an unprecedented level globally, the report says it can present an opportunity to increase citizens’ well-being while decreasing their environmental footprint through improved governance, land-use planning and green infrastructure. Furthermore, strategic investment in rural areas would reduce pressure for people to migrate.
The report calls for action to curb the flow of the 8 million tons of plastic pollution going into oceans each year. While the issue has received increased attention in recent years, there is still no global agreement to tackle marine litter.
The scientists note advancements in collecting environmental statistics, particularly geospatial data, and highlight there is huge potential for advancing knowledge using big data and stronger data collection collaborations between public and private partners.
Policy interventions that address entire systems – such as energy, food, and waste – rather than individual issues, such as water pollution, can be much more effective, according to the authors. For example, a stable climate and clean air are interlinked; the climate mitigation actions for achieving the Paris Agreement targets would cost about US$ 22 trillion, but the combined health benefits from reduced air pollution could amount to an additional US$ 54 trillion.
The report shows that policies and technologies already exist to fashion new development pathways that will avoid these risks and lead to health and prosperity for all people,
said Joyeeta Gupta and Paul Ekins, co-chairs of the GEO-6 process.
What is currently lacking is the political will to implement policies and technologies at a sufficient speed and scale,
The sixth Global Environmental Outlook has been released while environmental ministers from around the world are in Nairobi to participate in the world’s highest-level environmental forum. Negotiations at the Fourth UN Environment Assembly are expected to tackle critical issues such as stopping food waste, promoting the spread of electric mobility, and tackling the crisis of plastic pollution in our oceans, among many other pressing challenges.
Total 332 Bird Species Located in Himachal Pradesh
Shimla-As per the Great Backyard Bird Count (7th Indian edition), the number of bird species in Himachal Pradesh was 332 in 2018, a spokesman of State Forest Department informed on February 21, 2019.
PCCF (WL) Dr. Savita said that among the Indian States, Himachal Pradesh shared the topmost position with Uttrakhand where the highest number of species was recorded.
Birding locations included wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, conservation reserves, villages and urban areas. She said that more than 150 bird species were recorded in Mandi, Shimla, Kangra and Sirmaur districts.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is a citizen science initiative intended to encourage both amateur and professional bird-watchers to contribute towards the understanding bird and their biology in a better way.
The Department said that amateur birders from across the state contributed in the count in addition to 287 checklists that were uploaded into e-Bird by 55 participants.
Participation in the event involved a minimum of 15 minutes bird watching during which all the bird species seen were counted and listed. It involved bird watching sessions with school teachers and students, birding involving local villagers and panchayat representatives and training of frontline staff of the forest department in bird identification.
The Department said a detailed report is in preparation and will be circulated by the first week of March
This initiative was coordinated by Joint Secretary (Forests) Sat Pal Dhiman, Chief Conservator Forest (HQR) Nagesh Guleria, Chief Conservator Forest (WL) South Sushil Kapta, DFO (Hqr) N.P.S. Dhaulta along with other senior officers of the department.
Watch: IIT Mandi Researchers Use ‘Pollutant Diesel Emissions’ For Water Treatment
Mandi- Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology Mandi have used the soot emitted by diesel engines to mop up oil and other organic pollutants from water. Their work has been recently published in the journal – Environmental Science and Pollution Research.
Although diesel engines are known to be superior to other internal combustion engines in terms of lower fuel consumption and better energy release efficiencies, they are associated with significant amounts of particulate emissions.
The particulates largely comprise soot, which is formed in the fuel rich regions of the burning diesel jets. Increasing environmental concerns and stringent emission standards require the development of both conventional and unconventional means for reducing soot.
Studies in this area have focused on improving the engine design and incorporating special filters and treatment units at the exhaust end of the vehicle.
Dr. Rahul Vaish, Associate Professor, School of Engineering at IIT Mandi and his research students Vishvendra Pratap Singh and Moolchand Sharma have looked at this problem from a different perspective.
They rationalized that while it is impossible to bring down soot emissions to zero, it is possible to find a use for the soot produced.
Carbon species such as carbon nanotubes, graphene, and candle soot have shown their potential in many fields,
so why not automobile soot?
It is known that carbon species can absorb various organic pollutants in water. Carbon nanotubes, filter paper, mesh films, and graphene have been used for removing oil from water. Given that the typical carbon content of soot is between 90 and 98%, the team explored the possibility of using this pollutant as an adsorbent of oil and organic contaminants in water.
There is a rapid increase in oil and chemical leakages from oil tankers or ships and industrial accidents with expansion in oil production and transportation in the last few decades,
the authors write in their recently published paper, justifying the need for new materials to mop up oil and prevent catastrophic environmental outcomes.
In an earlier study, Dr. Vaish used candle soot to successfully remove two cationic dyes, rhodamine B and methylene blue from water, thereby showing the possibility of organic from water thereby showing the possibility of organic chemical removal by soot. Extending this earlier work, the research team incorporated diesel exhaust soot into polymer sponges to study their capability to adsorb oil and other organic materials from water. This hydrophobic sponge showed high absorption capacity for various oils, without the need for complex pretreatments.
The researchers found that the highest oil absorption capacity was 39 g/g for engine oil. An interesting observation was that the sponges were recyclable and retained 95% efficiency even after 10 cycles.
The diesel soot impregnated sponge could also absorb pollutants like methylene blue, ciprofloxacin, and detergent from the water. This has practical implications.
Apart from oil spills, organic pollutants such as traces of dyes and detergent coming from industries and households are a major contributor to water pollution,
says Dr. Vaish.
The soot impregnated sponge can help in developing cost-effective remediation processes for common domestic and industrial pollutants. Such a development would additionally serve to repurpose automobile waste.
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